Insider Buying Steady as Market Again Hits All-Time Highs: Arconic, Murphy’s USA, Bristol-Myers, Avon and More

In what is becoming something of a Groundhog Day–type scenario, the market continued its climb to record highs across the board last week. While things slowed near the end of the week, giddy investors continued pouring money into U.S. stocks, and insiders continued their steady purchases at companies where they work or have a large position that is on file. With the first quarter winding down, it will be very interesting to see how things proceed in March.

We cover insider buying each week at 24/7 Wall St., and we like to remind readers that while insider buying is usually a very positive sign, it is not in of itself a reason to run out and buy a stock. Sometimes insiders and 10% owners have stock purchase plans set up at intervals to add to their holdings. That aside, it still remains an overall positive indicator.

Here are some of the companies that reported notable insider buying this past week.

Hedge fund Elliott Associates continued its pursuit of shares of Arconic Inc. (NASDAQ: ARNC) last week. This time the fund bought a block of 700,000 shares in this maker of engineered products for aerospace and other markets. The prices ranged from $29.78 to $30.36 per share. The total for the buy was a stunning $20.5 million. The shares closed trading last Friday at $28.09, in a 52-week trading range of $16.75 to $30.69. The Wall Street consensus price target is $28.25.

Jamba Inc. (NASDAQ: JMBA) had a member of the board, Engaged Capital, buying shares of the company again last week. The fund picked up a total of 78,398 shares at prices that ranged from $9.75 to $9.84. The total for the trade was posted at $800,000. Shares of the well-known Jamba Juice restaurants operator closed Friday at $9.69. The 52-week range for the stock is $9.08 to $13.69. The consensus price objective is $11.50.

A director at the convenience store operator Murphy’s USA Inc. (NYSE: MUSA) bought some stock last week. That director purchased a total of 10,000 shares at $64.49 apiece. The total for the buy was posted at $700,000. The stock closed last Friday at $64.83. Its 52-week trading range is $56.92 to $80.44, and the consensus price target is $77.

One of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world saw a director buying shares last week. That director bought a block of 12,000 shares of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) at prices that ranged from $56.76 to $56.81. The total for the purchase was posted at $700,000. Shares closed Friday at $57.26, though the consensus target price is just $55.37. The 52-week range is $46.01 to $77.12.

Four top executives at SM Energy Corp. (NYSE: SM) acquired some of the stock last week. CEO Javan Ottoson, an executive vice president, and two directors combined to buy a total of 26,000 shares at prices that ranged from $25.22 to $25.69 a share. The total trade tab for the four came to $700,000. The stock closed Friday at $24.39, in a 52-week range of $12.90 to $43.09. We recently profiled the company as a top producer of natural gas liquids.

Avon Products Inc. (NYSE: AVP) had the chief operating officer at the company purchasing stock. James Scully bought a 150,000-share block of the iconic make-up and personal goods company at $4.37 per share. The total for the buy was set at $655.000. The stock ended the week at about the same level: $4.35. Shares have traded between $3.52 and $6.96 in the past year, and the consensus price objective is $5.61.

Here are some of the other companies that reported insider buying last week: American Asset Trust Inc. (NYSE: AAT), Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), GNC Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GNC), Stericycle Inc. (NASDAQ: SRCL) and United Insurance Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: UIHC).

While the insider buying held steady, and it is up from earlier in the quarter, it is still being swamped by insider selling, and that is a trend we feel could remain in place until the market has a healthy correction and prices come down.

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